Picking The Right Future Employee

In today’s economy, organizations are seeking every opportunity they can to reduce costs and increase margins. Marketing plans, purchasing strategies, and asset management are typically three of the most common ways to increase profits. Unfortunately, the one item that costs ag retailers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year is often overlooked. That item is “bad hires” — employees that just don’t live up to their expectations.

In some cases, organizations will extend job offers to candidates that may not have all the skills, as it’s tough to get the right candidate to relocate to the community. Even more often, hiring managers interview several candidates and pick what they feel is the standout candidate — only for that candidate to stand out as a poor employee.

How can this be prevented? Is hiring employees as much of a gamble as it appears?

Fortunately, most hiring mistakes can be prevented, and your hiring process does not need to be as big of a risk as you might think. When an organization makes a bad hire, it often goes back to the interview process and trying to figure out what it can do different in the interview that will prevent this from happening. In fact, in the March 2010 issue of CropLife®, we offered some of the questions we utilize to find things about your candidates that can easily be overlooked with typical questions. However, it’s not your interview process and the questions you ask that will be the key to your hiring: It’s what you do BEFORE the interview that will significantly reduce the risk of hiring the wrong employee.

Don’t Assume

Many interviewers naturally assume that a well-prepared candidate is probably the best employee. What most hiring managers fail to recognize is that a well-prepared person may not be the best candidate for the job, and a well prepared interviewer will rarely make that hiring mistake. There are three critical steps that you must take if you want to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong employee.

■ Define the key job responsibilities.
■ Set realistic role expectations.
■ Analyze the work environment.

Define the key job responsibilities. The first step in preventing a poor hiring decision is to first decide what skills and attributes a candidate must possess to be able to meet the minimum requirements of the job on their first day. The key here is “the first day.” If this position requires a person to be able to do specific tasks on Day One — then those qualities must be on the list. If there are activities that need to be accomplished in a few months, and you will have time to train them — then those qualities should not be on the list. Think about the day-to-day routines of this position and all of the skills and personal attributes that are necessary to do the job well. What you may discover is that you may be setting your initial bar too high, and by default, missing out on some excellent candidates that, with a little coaching, could be star performers down the road.

Set realistic role expectations. Many, if not most, of the reasons candidates leave positions after the first year is because either they or the position didn’t live up to expectations. Before you interview the first candidate, you must first define the results you expect from this position in the first week, the first month, the first quarter, and the first year. This is a very critical step that is often overlooked. This activity will ensure both the hiring manager and the candidate that there are expected benchmarks.

For example, it’s easy to say “we expect this sales territory to have a 10% increase in profit this year.” However, it’s much more difficult to lay out the expectations for four or more benchmarks prior to that! When you really analyze the situation, is an increase what you truly expect? If this hire is replacing a good employee that left the organization, your early goals are likely to be more focused on retention. If you are hiring a location manager to “make changes,” it’s easy to say you want someone to improve things and make the necessary changes — but what changes are you expecting in the first week, month, and quarter? Are you looking for someone to get the existing staff focused and pulling in the same direction, or do you want this person to tear things down and build it back up? The same goal — but two very different timelines and methods.

Establishing these goals ahead of time will help you determine which candidates have the best ability to hit these targets. In addition, the multiple goals enhance the likelihood that a manager can resolve any issues or concerns with positive coaching long before their frustration leads to departure or they are dismissed due to not meeting annual expectations.

Analyze the work environment. Take a good look at the prospective supervisor, co-workers, customers, and anyone else an employee in this position will regularly be working for or with. Is the supervisor a hands-on manager or do they coach from a distance? Are the customers in this market loyal/high relationship buyers or is this an area with very low market share? Are the co-workers aggressive and competitive or are they reserved?

The Keys To Success

Next, think about what characteristics are necessary for a person to succeed in this environment. Consider these rules of thumb:

■ If the hiring manager is “hands-off,” then the candidate must have a high level of independence, the ability to develop plans/strategies on their own, and have enough experience to do things without seeking a second opinion.
■ If the manager is hands-on, you need a candidate that enjoys a team environment; the kind of person that enjoys bouncing thoughts and ideas off of others, and organized enough to meet the supervisor’s style of reporting and observation.
■ In a high market share territory, the candidate will typically need to have an expressive or high relationship style to be successful. People with this style develop and maintain a high level of rapport and will offer a high level of customer service. People with this style are focused on making long-term relationships and don’t like the word “no.”
■ If the territory has a low market share, the candidate will need to have a driven personality that typically thinks very strategically and seeks the constant challenges that a low market share environment provides. They are driven by making new sales and don’t care how many times they hear the word “no.” They are, however, often perceived as aggressive and can seem “pushy” to long-term customers.

So to attract, hire, and keep the right employees, preparation ahead of time can not only save you the cost of a miss-hire, but more likely help you select a future employee that can hit the organization’s goals and meet your expectations.

Leave a Reply

Employees Stories
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More
EmployeesHead Start Program Prepares The Next Generation Of Ag Retailers
April 7, 2014
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, in partnership with the Asmark Institute, are offering the Head Start Program to prepare students for work at ag retail facilities. Read More
EmployeesThree Keys To Employee Success
March 3, 2014
Increasing employee performance becomes much easier when managers follow these three simple things. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More